How ironic that one could freeze an ice dragon.
On the platform of the ship’s echoing aviary, one fourth of the way to the soaring ceiling, Pietas ap Lorectic wrapped both arms around himself and shivered.
No, what was ironic was that he, who could freeze people and things solid simply by losing his temper, thought anyplace was cold. The air in here brought back the ache in his shoulders that a full hour of soaking in a hot tub had finally relieved.
“Uurah, warm it up in here.”
Overhead, bars of light snapped on, radiating artificial sunlight. The heat penetrated at once. Not as good as the sun, but it would do. A human could tan under that glow.
“Better, my lord?” Carrying a basket of yellow apples, Uurah entered. Connected to all parts of the ship, the android servant and bodyguard could alter any function of the vessel at will. “Temperature and humidity should reach required levels in twelve point nine seconds.”
“Good.” From up here, the black walls and sandy-colored floor gave one a sense of floating. Easy to lose one’s balance, but the height was necessary. When the dragon made his entrance, Stormsinger and Pietas would be eye to eye.
“Where shall I place these?”
Pietas pointed. “Next to the first seat.”
Uurah set down the basket and stood at attention. “How else may I help you?”
“I’ll be fine. Thank you. They’ll be here any minute. Do your best to stay out of sight. They’ve never explained why they dislike androids, but let’s respect their wishes.”
“Yes, my lord. Allow me to stay until you’re seated, and then I’ll be over there if you need me.”
Pietas took his offered arm. You’d have thought the android had a mother hen mode, the way he hovered. “I promise, I’ll be more careful this time. Last thing I want is another fall.”
It certainly hadn’t done his damaged shoulders any good. Not to mention adding a hip fracture to an already tediously long list of injuries. Immortals had plenty of time to accumulate them. And he, being rather short-tempered, had instigated injurious fights aplenty.
Adrenaline relieved the constant pain shadowing his every move. Worth it, in the long run, but all things considered, not wise. As always, his injuries healed without scarring, but this one hurt more than he’d expected, and took far longer to mend.
Using care, he lowered himself into a cushioned seat right on the edge of the platform.
“I’m seated. You may go.”
Uurah bowed and retreated into the darkness.
Stormsinger was twice the height of Pietas and had a wingspan of over ninety Tradestandard feet. Despite the aviary’s generous size, it wasn’t big enough to permit flying, but he could walk about and flex his wings. If the dragon’s mate or sister joined him, there would still be plenty of room.
Pietas picked up one of the sweet-smelling apples. As if the fruit were a summons, the air shimmered like a heat wave.
Teal blue swirled through a mother-of-pearl fog, coalescing into solid form. Transdimensional shift complete, the pearl-white dragon fluttered his wings and settled, tucking them around him.
“Hello, old friend.” Stormsinger’s deep voice in Oldspeech entered Pietas’s thoughts as easily as water into dry sand. Dragons usually reserved the mind-to-mind voice for other dragons. But for Pietas and his people, who were every bit as immortal as the dragons themselves, they made an exception.
“It’s good to see you.” Pietas held out one hand, palm up.
In greeting, Stormsinger pressed his warm nose into the palm. In the low light, his spiked horns sported a hint of silver at the tips. The majesty of these creatures never failed to impress. Turquoise brushed the edges of his pearly scales, paw tips, tail, and the underside of his thick muzzle.
“How is everyone?”
“My mate sends her love. My parents send their best wishes. The gold-wing clan sends kind thoughts, and the blue-wings their animosity.”
He laughed. “I would expect nothing less from a blue-wing.”
Ring of the Dragon (complete, tentative release date early 2021)
For millennia, the immortal king Pietas and his most trusted knight fight side by side like Light and Shadow. They share a fierce and passionate love. Nothing separates them, until Pietas carries out an unforgiveable atrocity. Now, Cyken still fights by his side, but shuns every intimate overture.
Pietas understands his lover’s anger. No excuses. He was wrong. He can’t forgive himself either.
When Cyken finds a new love and wants his king to seal that relationship in an eternal bond, Pietas must find a way to prove he’s the better choice. To do that, he must prove himself trustworthy once and for all. The quest he undertakes, even if successful, might link Cyken and his new love even tighter.
But to win back the man he loves, he must risk losing him forever…
Kayelle Allen writes space opera with larger than life, unforgettable characters. Come walk in her worlds and meet them.
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